Check out this great story about Briya’s dual-generation model that aired on the ABC 7 News (WJLA)!
Manuche Gonclaves, a student in Briya’s Advanced II family literacy class, is committed to her education in spite of obstacles that she faces as a student, parent and immigrant.
Gonclaves advocated for adult learners like herself in a letter to 4th Ward councilmember Brandon Todd, which won first place in the English Language Learner category of the Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week essay contest.
Essay contest entrants were prompted to write a letter to their councilmember explaining some of the obstacles they face in pursuing their education, taking care of their family, and/or getting or keeping a good job, and to propose ways for the council to address these issues.
Gonclaves, who came to the US from Brazil five years ago, has two daughters, one of whom is in Briya’s toddler class. She is working to earn her high school diploma through Briya’s National External Diploma Program and then plans to graduate from the school’s Medical Assistant Program.
Her long-term goal is to work and save money so she can go to college and become a social worker. “I love to help people,” she said. “It’s the one thing that I want to do.”
In her letter, Gonclaves explained difficulties that she and other adult learners face in her letter.
“My obstacles are money, time and family,” Gonclaves wrote. “First, I don’t have money for college and to pay a daycare for my kids. My whole family is in my country, I don’t have anybody to help me.”
Gonclaves proposed increasing free or inexpensive daycare options and having more college scholarship opportunities so parents can afford to get further education.
“If I have a daycare for my kids, I’ll be able to go to school every day without worries,” she wrote. “The scholarships will be a good help to get my college degree without having to work many hours.”
Gonclaves was honored at an event kicking off Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week at Busboys and Poets on September 21, where she read her letter and received a prize.
“I’m lucky to come to DC because I see in other places they don’t have this type of program like Briya,” Gonclaves said. “I’m so excited to be here.”
The ways Briya’s unique model benefits immigrant families are highlighted in a story by Armando Trull for NPR. Read and listen to the story here.
“Always work as a team and help one another.”
“Start studying the first day of school so you’re not piling it up.”
“Don’t doubt yourself. Confidence is key.”
This was among the advice the incoming class of Briya’s Medical Assistant (MA) Program received from previous students as they were inducted into the program during a ceremony this fall.
Briya’s MA program, offered in collaboration with the school’s longtime partner Mary’s Center, runs for 12-15 months and prepares students for a career as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). RMAs perform administrative and clinical duties in medical offices, clinics and hospitals.
The new MA students were welcomed by Christie McKay, Executive Director of Briya, and Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer at Mary’s Center.
Koppelman praised the work of several MAs from earlier classes of Briya’s program who were since hired at Mary’s Center. She also emphasized the importance of medical assistants as the first and last person patients interact with at their appointments.
“My advice for all of you is to attend the class every day and stay organized,” said former student Claudia Ramos. “Study a lot whenever you have free time. Ask questions if you don’t understand.”
“Work hard and appreciate what you are receiving,” said Wendy Evora, another former student. “It’s not easy, but it’s not too hard. Ask your family, classmates and teachers for support.”
Ramos also expressed her gratitude to the program instructors: “Thank you for all of your patience and the time that you spent with each of us,” she said. “Thank you for providing me with all the knowledge that I need.”
Briya’s strategies for engaging the parents of dual language learners in their children’s education are featured as outstanding in an article by the New America Foundation.
Approaches that are part of Briya’s parenting classes and PACT time, including encouraging learning at home and providing parents with materials related to what children learned in class, are noted as excellent strategies. Briya’s partnership with Mary’s Center to provide further services to families is also cited as an excellent tactic.
The article praises Briya’s PreK outcomes, stating that the school has “seen great success: student language/literacy, mathematics and social-emotional learning (SEL) scores are nearly perfect, and SEL scores reach 100 percent.”
“[O]ther early education centers should learn from places like Briya … that have intentionally prioritized family engagement and incorporated it as an integral component of their program,” the article states.
Briya’s partnership with Mary’s Center is featured in a study by the Brookings Institution as a valuable example of how schools and clinics can work together to strengthen communities.
“The combination of a school and clinic that function together as a ‘hub’ to provide healthcare, social services and education shows promise as a way to help improve social mobility in low-income neighborhoods,” according to the study.
In addition to the co-location of education, health and social services, the study cites the provision of education for parents and children simultaneously as a key strategy that contributes to Briya/Mary’s Center’s success. Researchers conclude that the combination of a dual-generation school and a clinic could be a model for others to follow.
“Briya/Mary’s Center is an interesting case of how a school-clinic hub can impact the medical, social and educational health of a community, potentially laying the foundation for greater economic mobility in a neighborhood,” the study says.
Briya students learned about their rights as workers, tenants, immigrants, and parents living in DC during Briya’s first Know Your Rights info fair on May 6.
Held at Briya’s Ontario Road site, the event was an opportunity for various local organizations to share their resources and expertise with Briya students and others from the local community.
“Student surveys and brainstorming with students and staff have shown that our families have a lot of need in areas like housing, jobs and legal support,” said Community Schools Coordinator Stephanie Mintz, who organized the event. “This was a way to bring organizations that offer these resources together in one place.”
Agencies shared materials on workers’ rights, domestic violence, immigration law, disability rights, discrimination, tax help, and more. To encourage engagement, students completed a scavenger hunt that required them to interact with the representatives.
Eleven area organizations—Ayuda, CARECEN, Catholic Charities, DC Employee Justice Center, The Equal Rights Center, Julia M. Toro Law Firm, LEDC, Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, SAFE, Sojourners, and Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs—participated in the May 6 event.
“This event was a win for both the organizations who participated and the Briya students who attended,” Mintz said.
Briya will host a second Know Your Rights event at our 3912 Georgia Ave. location from 10:30-2 on June 11. Stop by to learn about your rights as a DC citizen!
Two Briya students, Yanira Umaña and Anabel Cruz, were honored at the 2015 STARS Tribute, an annual event that celebrates the best students, parents and school leaders in DC public charter schools. The tribute is organized by the DC Association for Chartered Public Schools.
Umaña was a finalist in the category of Outstanding Adult Student. She began in Briya’s Basic II ESL/family literacy class in 2012 and has since progressed to Intermediate II. Her son, Moises Rios, has been in Briya’s Early Childhood program since infancy, and she is also mother to eight-year-old Emily.
“Yanira is a leader in the classroom and participates in our parenting components with both enthusiasm and creativity,” said Cristin Reeder, Umaña’s teacher. “She is also an active member in her community and is involved in various local organizations.”
Anabel Cruz, a current Advanced II student who began in the Intermediate I class in 2006, was awarded Most Outstanding Parent at the tribute.
“I have seen Anabel incorporating the ideas she has learned in child development class into her own parenting,” said Mark Faloni, Cruz’s teacher. “In this field of adult education, she epitomizes what we at Briya have been working at for a long time—creating lifelong learners who make life better for themselves and their families.”
In addition to advancing in Briya’s family literacy program, Cruz received her high school diploma through Briya’s NEDP program, completed a six-year term as a Briya board member, and graduated from Briya’s Medical Assistant program. She is currently the PTA president at Mundo Verde PCS, where her three children attend.
“Anabel quickly builds a trusting and caring rapport with her children’s teachers,” said Elizabeth Barriga, teacher of two of Cruz’s children at Mundo Verde. “She is proactive in finding out ways to support their learning while clearly and kindly communicating her expectations and insights to teachers.”
“I tell my children that if I can do it, you can too,” Cruz said. “If you keep studying hard, one day you will realize your dreams.”
Can you imagine spending over 1750 hours (73 days) reading? What about reading almost 1,300 books in 4 weeks?
Briya students did just that in the past month during their Reading Challenge!
From April 8 to May 8, all students in Briya’s Basic and Intermediate family literacy classes read for a total of 1,766 hours (73 days), while students in Advanced classes read a total of 1,290 books.
The goal of the Reading Challenge, which Briya has held for the past 10 years, is to encourage students to incorporate more reading into their lives and the lives of their families. Students record the number of minutes or number of books they read. They can read alone or with their children, in English or in their native language. Students select reading material based on their own interest.
To help motivate students, each of Briya’s three sites created a mural to visually represent the amount students read. The murals started with a basic background and gradually grew more colorful and complete as students added to them.
On May 8, students at each site celebrated with a party, where the top readers in every class were honored with an award. Students also each received a book to take home with them!
Forty-five students from Briya’s Child Development Associate (CDA) Program celebrated the completion of their coursework and the beginning of their professional careers at a graduation ceremony on April 2.
Briya’s Child Development Associate course prepares students for jobs such as an early childhood teacher or a licensed home daycare operator. Two classes, one in English and one in Spanish, are taught four evenings a week from September to March of each year.
During the graduation ceremony, two student speakers, Diana Loughridge and Barbara Shaheed, congratulated their classmates on accomplishing the first step in realizing their dreams to be early childhood educators. The speakers encouraged their peers to put into practice what they learned during the course in order to promote children’s cognitive, emotional and physical growth.
All 2015 CDA graduates have completed their 120 hours of coursework. Those who have also completed the required 480 practice hours working with children in a licensed setting are now ready to apply to take the national CDA exam with the Council for Professional Recognition. Upon passing the exam, students will receive a nationally certified CDA credential.
“I admire all of our students,” said Wendy Guardado, CDA Coordinator. “All of them have a job and/or have children, but they still found the time, willingness and energy to come to class every day. This is the beginning of their careers as teachers, and I’m sure they are going to be great.”